FARMINGTON – Although the SAD 9 Board of Directors approved Superintendent Michael Cormier’s contract by an 8-4 vote at its June 2 meeting, there were some concerns expressed about the process.

The administrative evaluation committee recommended that Cormier be hired for four years from 2009-2013 with an annual salary of $98,659 to be adjusted after the second year if desired. Cormier had retired and then was rehired by the board and will collect benefits through the retirement system in addition to his salary.

“I understand it is the law,” said SAD 9 director Jo Josephson of Temple, one of the four who voted against the proposal, when asked to comment on her decision on June 10. “I don’t always agree with the law. I objected to the decision to accept his retirement and encourage him to return.”

At a public school budget meeting in May, Cormier had said he intended to reapply for the position. He noted at the meeting that the arrangement will save the district and state money.

Maine saves roughly 17 percent in payments due to Cormier working and the school district will save $10,000 annually because the state will be picking up some of his benefits.

Maine superintendents can retire at age 60 with a full pension, and can be rehired by their board of directors after retiring. In 2004, changes in the state’s retirement system allowed school employees to draw on their Maine Public Employees Retirement System account and salary jointly.

Josephson said she believed once an individual retires from their job, he or she shouldn’t remain in the position and collect benefits.

Several of the directors at the meeting praised Cormier for the work he had done for the school district and felt his experience at the helm would be crucial with two school building projects taking place. They also felt the board had adequate time to consider the proposal because the administrative evaluation committee began going through the process last February.

Josephson, however, believed the process was rushed.

“I felt this a decision where I didn’t have enough information,” she said.

Additionally, said Josephson, with so many in the region living on fixed incomes and people losing their jobs in the recession, rehiring Cormier and allowing him to collect a salary and retirement benefits was poor timing. She added that her vote had nothing to do with her opinion of Cormier’s job performance, but rather with the process and the state law.

“These points have been repeated at public meetings,” said Josephson. “I can only speak for myself.”

She said that she had corresponded with Cormier by e-mail regarding the contract issue before the vote was taken.

Several attempts to reach Cormier for comment were unsuccessful.

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